President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to immediately recall 11 deputy directors who were asked to proceed on retirement in March this year, documents seen by Daily Trust indicate.
This followed a petition by the affected directors seeking the intervention of the president over their retirement on grounds of “incompetence and disloyalty”.
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Checks by Daily Trust show that the retirement of the directors was conveyed via a letter titled: “Reorganisation of the Department of Petroleum Resources-Retirement from Service”.
The affected directors are: Dr. M.M. Zagi, Sani Hassan, A.Buba, E.Amadasu, A.R.Shakur, and U.B. Nkanda, M.A. Alaku, A.E.Antaih, Bassey Nkanga, Isa Tafida and J.M.Ajewole.
Their letters of retirement with reference number AD/PER/C90176 dated March 29, 2021, and addressed to them individually via emails read: “This is to convey the approval of the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources for your retirement from the services of the Department of Petroleum Resources with immediate effect.”
Signed by Engr. Sarki Auwalu, the Director/CEO, DPR the letters, seen by Daily Trust, requested the affected directors to, “handover to the most senior officer in your location/division and return any government property in your possession accordingly.”
Upon receipt of the letters, the affected directors wrote to President Buhari, in his capacity as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, seeking his intervention.
In their joint petition dated March 30, 2021, and titled: “Appeal to rescind letter of retirement from service”, the affected directors maintained that the letters conveying approval of their retirement from the service of the DPR ‘with immediate effect’ did not take due cognizance of the nature of their employment which stipulates that retirement from service is upon the attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of service.
“We also wish to state that the letter which sought to convey your approval of our retirement from service ‘with immediate effect is suggestive to us and to any unbiased observer of being punitive arbitrary and discriminatory.”
Daily Trust gathered that following their petition, the president requested the Head of Service (HoS) to investigate and report back to him.
When the HoS in response wrote to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources seeking explanation over our retirement the ministry responded that we are unproductive and disloyal,” said one of the affected directors.
In his report back to the president, the HoS established that due process was not followed and that if not reversed “the affected directors could go to court and obtain a judgment that could embarrass the government.”
Daily Trust gathered that it was based on this that the President ordered the recall of the affected directors and “prove their unproductivity and disloyalty”.
The president’s directive, which was conveyed on July 6, 2021 through his chief of staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, a copy of which Daily Trust obtained, reads: “Kindly note that the president has directed that the DPR should immediately recall the retired officers and request them to defend the allegation of being unproductive and disloyal to the system and government in line with DPR’s disciplinary procedures.”
But the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) told Daily Trust that the retirement subsists, adding that it has not seen any letter directing it to reabsorb the retired directors.
DPR’s spokesman Mr. Paul Osu, told Daily Trust that the retirement of the directors was a normal practice in the public service and the presidency couldn’t have reversed itself on the decision.
“The matter is even before the Industrial Court,” he said.